All photos courtesy of: Emanuel Love
Dee Jay Alicia (DJA), a Chicago native, developed a love for music at a young age. Her musical beginnings were rooted in Soul, Steppers, and R&B. She began her DJ career in 1996 under the guidance of her mentor and then husband DJ Raphael. When she was properly prepared musically and technically, she became a member of the DJ group C-7 sounds.
Her first residency was a weekly Steppers’ set at Mr. G’s Supper Club. She enjoyed a successful 16 year stretch as a mobile Jock and Stepper’s DJ which included appearances on the weekly TV show “Stepping at Club 7” hosted by the Legendary DJ and radio host Herb Kent.
After a short hiatus in 2010, she made the decision to dive back into music and the world of DJ’ing. After a year spent familiarizing herself with the new DJ technology and musical landscape, the focus became the genre of House music. She began frequenting House exclusive parties and getting a feel for the very vibrant Chicago House scene. The first brick of building in a community where she was “unknown” was to gain a residency to perfect and showcase her talent. She did so, with a weekly night at a local southside bar.
Since that pivotal decision, her journey in House music thus far has included many events at bars, clubs, and picnics throughout Chicago, Detroit, L.A., Austin, and Houston. Also, there have been many phenomenal moments which include larger events at Millennium Park, the Silver Room Block Party, Navy Pier, the Shedd Aquarium, Randolph Street Fair, Charivari Detroit, Chicago Summer Dance, and two guest appearances at Chicago’s House music crown jewel, the Chosen Few DJs Picnic.
DJA is, and has been, a member of many groups such as Midnyte Productions, Black Onyx, the Triad, and Ascension. She has hosted internet radio shows and been heard as a guest on the airwaves of Philly Nites Radio, NYC Radio, NTS Radio, and House in the Midsouth. She holds DJ residencies for several groups and organizations which include CODE RED, Devo Entertainment, the Sisterhood Picnic, House Stock, and Heaven Has A Heart. Currently, DJA can be seen every Wednesday on Twitch TV on her show Studio Sessions with Hostess Lady Alicia and Moderators G Whip and Red Diva at http://www.twitch.tv/Deejayalicia
In 2018, Alicia founded a non-for-profit Legacy Arts Center for Education (LACE) with the mission to provide arts and educational programs to support and motivate the youth. LACE includes programs that foster positive, forward-thinking that guides our future leaders towards a successful future.
What began as a weekly internet radio show, evolved into a collective of some of the most talented DJs in the Chicagoland Area…the VORTEX DJs. In 2021, the VORTEX DJs hosted their first annual picnic.
GO BANG! Magazine: When you started DJ’ing, you were trained by your then husband, DJ Raphael. What was it about DJ’ing that attracted you to it?
Dee Jay Alicia: The music. I’ve always LOVED and been surrounded by music. Music played in my aunt’s kitchen daily while I was growing up. An eclectic mix of music (Rock, Soul, and R&B) was played at the skating rink on Saturdays. I rushed home as a teen to watch MV60… no commercials ALL MUSIC. Not to mention mixes on BMX and KKC. Every memory I have can be tied to a specific song, genre, or artist.
GO BANG! Magazine: At this time, you were spinning Stepper’s songs. What was it like to spin at Mr. G’s Supper Club and on “Stepping at Club 7”, and how were you received as a female DJ in a male dominated field?
Dee Jay Alicia: Spinning at Mr. G’s was bananas. The DJ booth was double sided with events going on simultaneously on both sides. At that time, Raphael and I shared our crates of wax. Two events going on simultaneously was tough in terms of sound and timing of record play. We eventually acquired double copies of popular songs and expanded to our own individual crates.
Stepping at Club 7 was stressful. The tapings were LIVE on set, so mistakes were frowned upon, and do-overs were not possible. The Producer was a no-nonsense woman and wanted perfection from the DJs and the dancers. I was about 3 months into my DJ career so needless to say I was scared to death. Calming words from my mentors Steve Breeze and Terrible Ted calmed me enough to perform.
Raphael and I had begun “blending” steppers music at parties. He convinced me to try a blend on the show. I mustered up the courage to do it and although it wasn’t perfect… I did it! After which, he proclaimed me to be the first to blend steppers on national tv. LOL!!!!!
As far as being a female DJ, I had two strikes against me. I was much younger than the crowd and I am female. They looked at me and automatically assumed I was uneducated on the music and was not skilled at the craft. As I did then, and still do today, I had to prove myself.
GO BANG! Magazine: Are there any DJs that came before you that were an inspiration to you and helped to motivate you to pursue a career as a DJ?
Dee Jay Alicia: That list would go on to infinity. There are DJs both on the Stepper’s side and the House side that both inspire and motivate.
Steppers and mobile DJs would include: DJ Porter, Eric “ET” Taylor, Stevo, Phil, Lonnie, Steve Brewer, and Freddie Mack (RIP), DJ Reese, Terrible Ted, Sam Chatman, Woody McNeal, and of course DJ Raphael to name a few.
House Music DJs include: Black Coffee, Louie Vega, David Morales, Beloved, Selecta, Joe Claussel.
More closely related are: Terry Hunter, Mike Dunn, Jamie 3:26, Wayne Williams, DJ Boxx, Lori Branch, Lady D, Jevon Jackson, Mickey Calvin, Steve Maestro, DJ Lil John, Taz, Derek Smokin’ Jones, and the list could go on forever.
GO BANG! Magazine: You took time off as a DJ, and when you returned in 2010, you switched genres from Stepper’s music to House music. Why did you make the switch?
Dee Jay Alicia: Prior to the break, I was a Stepper’s DJ and mobile jock. In Chicago, as a mobile jock, there is ALWAYS a House component to most events.
After the break, I returned as a multi-genre DJ playing events around Chicago. I began going out and observing different DJs, their technique, and style of play. It was at this time I became aware of underground parties and venues that were previously unknown to me. While visiting one of the underground venues, I had the opportunity to hear Jamie 3:26. This was the moment I KNEW that I wanted to spin House music EXCLUSIVELY and moreover I wanted to play at underground venues. I was encapsulated by the mix of music, the dark fog filled room, and shrieks of musical ecstasy from the dancers. THIS was what I wanted to do!
GO BANG! Magazine: It’s been 12 years since your return, and you have come back with a vengeance. You have performed at various locations throughout the US, including the Chosen Few DJs Picnic. Please describe to our readers what it was like, in just over 10 years, to go from a “brand-new House DJ” to performing at one of the world’s largest outdoor House music festivals.
Dee Jay Alicia: Unbeknownst to me at the time, with my eager to play music for people ideals, the Chicago House community was a tight knit family that didn’t take to newcomers so easily. They had a history of friendship that span back to their teenage years and the inception and development of House music.
Since I had not been a part of that scene, I had my work cut out for me. On a what seemed like a daily basis, naysayers were sounding off on social media and in House music groups. It was hard to ignore being “drug” on social media BUT my love for music was stronger than the chatter! It was said that I was too old, I wasn’t good enough and I would never play with the likes of Mike Dunn and Terry Hunter.
Being no stranger to starting from the beginning and having already been through trial-by-fire with the Steppers, I began a residency at a local lounge with a few friends. Thus, my House music journey began.
GO BANG! Magazine: Currently, you have a weekly show on Twitch called Studio Sessions. Please describe your show to our worldwide readers, who may not be familiar with your show.
Dee Jay Alicia: Studio Sessions has evolved overtime from its inception, which was meant to be a multi-genre jam session playing wax pulled from my collection over green tea, to an all-House format broadcast on another Twitch platform, to its current format on my Twitch channel, which includes Lady Alicia, the on-screen Hostess and partying with my Squad Mods G Whip and Red Diva.
Its’ most recent evolution are live interviews with a host of guest DJs, both local and global. This change was presented by SA DJ/Producer Harrison Crump during his visit to the show. I affectionately call this segment of the show “The HOT SEAT.” The discussion is very candid, and the exchange of ideas allow for the ability to inform, educate, and create a meeting of the minds on topics usually only discussed in like-minded DJ groups, never allowing for an alternative opinion. The differences in views are discussed in friendship and help create respectful enlightenment.
GO BANG! Magazine: In addition to being a DJ, you are also a talented music producer. How would you describe your sound and how has being a DJ influenced you as a producer?
Dee Jay Alicia: I think DJ’ing and Production goes hand and hand. I’ve had opportunities to sit with and work with some of the best Producers in the industry. Watching them create has totally changed the way I DJ. Prior to production, matching intros and outros and catching breaks to blend songs was my method of DJ’ing. The aftereffects of sitting with a talented Producer, changes you musically, if you’re paying attention. My musical ear became more open, and I now listen to select instrumentation and song key. My DJ’ing and Production became more complex. Even the sound of music I’ve heard for years became different.
I believe my sound both in DJ’ing and Production is an eclectic mix on my musical influences. I do find myself leaning toward specific instruments and sounds. Afrobeats, Soulful and Classics are at the top of my list.
My first attempt at production, was to make edits to create an arsenal of music that no other DJ had. I figured this would increase the demand for me as a DJ. Which it did. As of late, I want to create songs that ALL DJs want to play… which is now the goal.
GO BANG! Magazine: You founded the non-profit Legacy Arts Center for Education (LACE) in 2018. What inspired you to do that and what do you hope to accomplish with your organization?
Dee Jay Alicia: Legacy Arts Center for Education (LACE) had been 10 years in the making. I wanted to provide kids with a safe haven where they could also be productive. I’d wished, that as a child, I was exposed to things like DJ’ing, stock investment and STEM. As an adult, my view of the world, and the array of opportunities would have been much different. I want to provide this opportunity to kids that are interested and in need of leadership and mentoring. I want to provide a place where a path to success and a can-do spirit propels them to heights that we could only imagine as kids.
Shortly, after we were up and running the pandemic hit. As with everything else we were at a standstill. Currently, I am reorganizing LACE, but in the interim I have a small group of girls, the “Kim Possibles” that I have gathered to build sisterhood and comradery. I have high hopes for them and am looking forward to the magic they create with the springboard of supporters affiliated with of LACE.
GO BANG! Magazine: You were recently a part of the annual “Queens of House” picnic presented by DJ SolKat. Why do you think that an all-woman annual picnic is necessary and how does it feel to be a part of it?
Dee Jay Alicia: The “Queens of House” is an exceptional concept and event. Bringing together the ladies in sisterhood and solidarity is necessary and important to the industry. I am pleased to have been selected as a guest six of the seven years. The support given and attendance to the event (even if it rains) shows that the House community truly supports the female DJs of Chicago and that an all-female line up can rock out comparable to our male counterparts.
GO BANG! Magazine: In the past, women DJs were more of a novelty, and not taken as serious as their male counterparts. Do you think that image is changing or has changed, and why or why not?
Dee Jay Alicia: Funny you should say that and use the word “novelty.” I was told by a very good friend of mine that “I” was a novelty and that soon the hoopla would die down. That was 10 years ago.
I’ve seen females spinning with bikini tops on and the like, but Chicago is a bit different. You must “earn it.” Whether the DJ is male or female, the listeners here are more multi-faceted and discerning. They want the music delivered in the most authentic and passionate way. They are well-versed in new and classic House music. They recognize technical proficiency. That being achieved dispels the myth of the “novelty” and reinforces the skill of the Chicago DJ.
GO BANG! Magazine: There are several DJs in the House community with mad skills. Which do you personally like, which ones would you love to DJ with, and which events would you love to spin at?
Dee Jay Alicia: This is a trick question. LOL!
I listen to and learn from ALL DJs! There is something to learn from each and every one you listen to. You can even learn from mistakes (I learn from my own mistakes as well).
I’ve actually begun creating my own events. I’ve gathered a group of DJs, the VORTEX DJs, because I love hearing and playing alongside them. The group consists of DJ Scooter B, Tony Madd, G Whip, Brett Morrison, Nicky D’Vine, Jesus Martinez, Mickey Calvin, Fiddy Millz and DJ Boxx.
I am also a member of the Ascension group. A collective of individuals who promote and DJ events throughout Chicago and abroad. The Ascension group consists of founding members Red Diva, DJ Boxx, G Whip and Toni Marie with the addition of myself, Jesus Martinez and Fiddy Millz.
Outside of that, I love playing for and with people who enjoy what I do. From backyard parties to mega arenas. Being received well, enjoyed, and being paid for what you love to do is the real flex.
Looking forward, I would love to increase my territory, and spin more internationally. Being on a bill with great DJs from around the world is fantastic, but at the end it’s all about experiences. I’m looking forward to more music and great experiences that will last a lifetime.
GO BANG! Magazine: You are an “in-demand” DJ, appearing at numerous events throughout the year. You recently had an event at Chicago’s “Summer Dance”, in downtown Chicago. Are there any other upcoming events that you’d like our readers to look out for?
Dee Jay Alicia: A few upcoming events that I am excited about are as follows:
Sept 10th: Peoria, IL with the Pit Crew DJs
Sept 15th: Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL
Oct 19th to 23rd: I’m super excited about being invited to spin with the First Lady as a member of her “Love Team” at ADE in Amsterdam.
GO BANG! Magazine: In conclusion, GO BANG! Magazine would like to thank you for this interview and is there anything that you’d like to mention that we haven’t covered?
Dee Jay Alicia: I would like to thank you for the opportunity and interest. I appreciate your consideration.
GO BANG! Magazine: It was our pleasure Alicia…. Now you’ve been BANGED!
DJA also produces music and currently has two releases co-produced with Mike Dunn feat. The Black Widow under Terry Hunter’s T’s Box record label.
She also has self-produced original singles and remixes that can be found at the
Links to more info and how you can become a mentor are below:
More info can be found at http://www.deejayalicia.com
Pierre A. Evans is a freelance writer of Entertainment, Music, Art, Culture, Fashion and Current Events, and previously for SoulTrain.com, NDigo.com, ChicagoDefender.com, EmpireRadioMagazine.com, and UrbanMuseMag.com, an author, singer/songwriter, actor, model, poet, dancer, and DJ. He is also the Owner of Pinnacle Entertainment Productions and the Owner/Publisher of GO BANG! Magazine. Follow him on Facebook @Pierre Andre Evans, Twitter @Playerre, and on Instagram @Pierre_Andre_Evans.